Ballistic Missile Defense Would Protect US

The author of the Opinion page article ``Americans in the Dark on Defense,'' Aug. 31, notes that Americans are sorely misinformed on ballistic missile defense issues. But he gives the public only part of the story.

The author presents a distortion to the public, namely that ``no country can protect itself from ICBM attack.'' Despite allegations of test fraud, after investigation it has been proven that the ``faked Star Wars test'' reported in the media was not faked. It was a successful test, demonstrating the ability to shoot down a warhead in space. Since 1984, other tests have duplicated this ability. The technology exists to defend ourselves. We need only common sense and the political will to use it.

The author perpetuates another myth about missile defense, that ``the US could still be attacked by low-flying cruise missiles or suitcase bombs.''

Ballistic missile defense is not meant to defend against these threats, just as attack submarines are not designed to stop terrorist truck bombs; moreover, there are other means for defending against these threats. Yet we still have not permitted ourselves to deploy a defense against ballistic missiles.

The Antiballistic Missile Treaty does little to protect the nation against the threat of proliferation, yet it is constantly relied upon as the cornerstone of ``strategic stability.'' The 20 or more developing nations with ballistic missiles and missile programs, and the half-dozen or more with nuclear weapons programs really don't care about the ABM Treaty, or SALT I and II, or START, or any other arms control regime.

Certainly, there are ways that, as he says, ``morality and law could temper anarchy to mutual advantage.'' But morality and law are small comfort when the despots rattle their sabers and the sirens wail. John Cunningham, Arlington, Va. Press Secretary, High Frontier Empower UN to give world security

In the Opinion page article ``A Case for High-Tech Weapons Building,'' Sept. 9, the author recommended that the United States concentrate on cruise missiles (costing about $1 million each) and other high-tech weapons. He said that would save lives, ours and theirs. That may be good advice so long as we continue to rely on military force and continue to act as the world's policeman.

However, wouldn't it be more sensible to create a better world security system at far less cost in money and lives?

This can be done by empowering the United Nations to substitute peacemaking for warmaking in the settlement of disputes, ensuring against abuse of basic human rights; and by addressing other global problems that are beyond the capacities of individual nations acting alone. Stanley K. Platt, Minneapolis Another look at Arafat

Contrary to the front page article on Yasser Arafat, ``From World Pariah to Statesman,'' Sept. 20, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief has not been ``long dismissed as an international outcast.'' In 1988, for example, when the United States government would not allow him into the US to address the United Nations, the General Assembly voted 154-2 (the two being the US and Israel) to move the world body to Geneva to hear Mr. Arafat.

Of even greater consequence, you report that ``after four decades of struggle'' Arafat ``has abandoned his attempt to reclaim all of Palestine.'' In fact, as your piece later implies, this has long been the case. Since the mid-1970s, the PLO has backed UN calls for a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state composed of the West Bank and Gaza side by side with Israel. The recent change in Arafat's position is not in advocating coexistence with Israel, but in putting aside a guarantee of a Palestinian state as a condition of mutual recognition. Sam Husseini, New York Associate, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting Art for the children's sake

Thank you for the article ``Stark Images of Child Poverty,'' Sept. 17. Herein lies the root of many of today's problems. The nation that fails to take care of its children will most certainly build more jails for its criminals. Dick Whitehead, Merritt Island, Fla.

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